Wednesday 22 February 2017

O'Donoghue to take reins for Blanco in King George

Thomas Kelly

Published 22/07/2010 | 05:00

Cape Blanco (right) winning the Irish Derby under Johnny Murtagh from Midas Touch (left) which was ridden by Colm O'Donoghue, who will now have the leg-up on Cape Blanco for Saturday's King George as Murtagh is serving a suspension.
Cape Blanco (right) winning the Irish Derby under Johnny Murtagh from Midas Touch (left) which was ridden by Colm O'Donoghue, who will now have the leg-up on Cape Blanco for Saturday's King George as Murtagh is serving a suspension.

LOYAL Ballydoyle team member Colm O'Donoghue has come in for the plum ride on Cape Blanco in the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

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The mount on Aidan O'Brien's Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby winner became available when regular partner Johnny Murtagh picked up a six-day suspension at Newmarket's July meeting. Speaking at Naas last night, O'Donoghue expressed his delight.

"I'm really looking forward to riding Cape Blanco," he said. "It will be super to be part of it all and I'm very grateful to Aidan and the owners for giving me such a big opportunity."

Like Seamie Heffernan, O'Donoghue is a regular partner of second and third-strings for O'Brien in the big races, and hit the Group One target last season on the stable's Jan Vermeer in the Criterium International at Saint-Cloud.

Impressive in the Dante Stakes at York when beating subsequent runaway Epsom Derby hero Workforce, Cape Blanco disappointed in the French Derby before bouncing back at The Curragh. The pair face a rematch at the weekend, with Workforce the even-money favourite and Cape Blanco available at 13/2 in a place.

Olivier Peslier -- rider of Workforce's main market rival Harbinger -- is in confident mood ahead of the big race.

Loyal

The French pilot received the call-up after champion jockey Ryan Moore decided to stay loyal to Workforce. Both, of course, are trained by Michael Stoute, who saddled an unprecedented one-two-three in the race 12 months ago with Conduit, Tartan Bearer and the Peslier-ridden Ask.

Peslier has a good record at the Berkshire venue with big-race victories on Goldikova, Vision D'Etat, Equiano and Ouija Board in recent years.

"I've had good success for Michael Stoute in the past and I think this year we have a good chance too," said Peslier. "I think he is the best horse this year and he is doing very well. I rode him on Saturday morning and he is very well.

"I think he's my best ever chance of winning the race. Last time he won very well at Ascot (in the Hardwicke Stakes) so he knows the track and I think he has a good chance."

Peslier has a good gauge on the form of the French challenger Daryakana, which has finished behind the Peslier-ridden Plumania twice this season.

"Daryakana will run very well. Last time at Saint-Cloud she finished very well in third. I won the race and Youmzain finished second but I think she was a bit unlucky as there wasn't much pace."

Meanwhile, Frankie Dettori displayed no signs of the illness that kept him off the track on Monday as the Italian fired in a near 27/1 treble at Lingfield yesterday courtesy of Introvert, Rutterkin and Zigato.

Irish Independent

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